Hit Play on the video above.
Premise: One school week in the lives of online Scrabble friends Charlotte and Ben are eventful. Charlotte’s begins with being called out of class with the news that her dad is in the hospital after suffering a heart attack. Meanwhile, Ben’s parents announce their divorce. Though the two kids do not attend the same school (they don’t even live in the same state), they both have to learn what friendship means in the midst of the most difficult challenges of their lives.
Target: 3-7 grade
Title: The statement, “You go first” is repeated several times throughout the novel and has to do with taking risks and being vulnerable in relationships and other settings.
Main Character(s): 6th graders Charlotte (she/her) and Ben (he/him)
Motifs (not exhaustive): friendship, isolation, change, trauma, bullying, scrabble, board games, nerds, social group, empathy, public speaking, student council, regret
Great for…* (readers): who are experiencing the shifting sands of friendships during tweenagerdom or isolated socially.
Great for…* (teachers): structure! This is essentially two novels that parallel one another than then intersect. There’s not much in here that requires guidance for young readers, so it could be a great Lit Circle or independent reading book.
Parental Warning(s): None.
Interact: What’s your favorite board game (or online game played by more than one person)?
Shop local bookstores.
Add on Goodreads.
*The “Great for” category is not exhaustive and does not intend to neglect the multitude of readers/teachers who could learn from this book in any number of ways.
٭ = DNF, would not recommend
٭٭ = would not recommend
٭٭٭ = enjoyable, would recommend
٭٭٭٭ = very good, would recommend
٭٭٭٭٭ = amazing, would definitely recommend
This vlog review was a great reminder for me since it’s been over three years since I read it. I remember feeling awkward for only rating it 3/5 after she’d taken the Newbery award just the previous year. And most of my reading colleagues really loved it. Nevertheless, for some reason I didn’t get into it as much as most of my MGlit reading colleagues. With Erin Entrada Kelly I’ve been like that. I enjoyed her We Dream of Space, Blackbird Fly, and Hello, Universe, and then I struggled with You Go First and I DNF’ed Lalani of the Distant Sea (which I would really like to try again some day soon because sometimes the lack of connection is simply all that’s going on in the reader’s life). I also wanted to mention that I just LOVE your feature pix – so playful and creative! Thanks for the great post and vlog!
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Well, thank you very much. I have way too much fun taking them. I feel the same way about Erin Entrada Kelly. We Dream of Space is in my TBR right now. Otherwise, I enjoyed You Go First, but I didn’t think it was great. I was pleasantly surprised, though, given that the only other Kelly book I read was Hello, Universe — which I finished but…begrudgingly.